It’s early yet, but the Boston Teachers Unions demands are already on the table, awaiting a response for the Boston Public Schools. “There are economic items, there are quality of life items and there are items that would improve education in the school system,” says union official Richard Stutman, “and we focus on all three.”
This round of negotiations will likely find many of the sticking points that held up negotiations three years ago like teacher raises and smaller class sizes. In 2000, the contract was finally signed in mid-October, well beyond the September 1st deadline. But this year the union is working in the shadow of a faltering economy and impending budget cuts.
“I could take a defeatist attitude and say things are gonna be tough, tighten our belts and let’s go home,” Stutman says. “That’s not the attitude we’re gonna take. What we’re saying- things are tough, we need more funding.”
As the union prepares to again ask for pay hikes and lower class size, the Romney administration is cutting hundreds of million in state aid. Consequently, the City of Boston is facing an immediate loss of about $27 million dollars.
Beyond that, schools statewide must come up with the money to comply with the November ballot question ordering the restructuring of bilingual education. “It’s a commitment that has been made by the administration in support of the referendum, the ballot question, and it will be ready for the fall program,” says Education chief Peter Nessen. But “these are state imposed mandates,” Richard Stutman offers. “It’s not fair for the state and it’s not equitable for the state to say we’re gonna impose these mandates but we’re gonna cut funding.”
Fair or not, it’s reality. And likely just the beginning.